Egypt's dollar shortage is behind the increase in tuition fees, which many students simply cannot afford.
Egypt’s turbulent economic situation has cast its shadow on academia. Earlier this afternoon, video footage of students protesting at the American University in Cairo (AUC) has emerged under #AUCStrike.
Students are protesting recent hikes in tuition fees, which, according to one student, will go from 60,000 EGP per semester to 70,000 EGP or more. “Now tuition fees may reach anywhere between 110,000 and 135,000 EGP per semester,” Ola Rashed, a student at AUC’s Political Science school, tells us.
The increase comes as Egypt’s foreign currency reserves reach their lowest point, and days after the government’s decision to free float the pound. Both factors are reflecting in the university’s finances as students are required to pay for 50 percent of their annual tuition fees in dollars.
According to Rashed, students fear that further fluctuation in the exchange rate, especially as analysts project further devaluation of the pound, will result in more tuition fee hikes in the morning. “Analysts and economists forecast that the dollar may settle at 18 EGP, which is going to mean further increases,” Rashed says. “Some of us have already invested way too much money in their education to switch schools now.”
What added fuel to the fire, however, is the administration’s irresponsiveness towards the students’ demands. “A forum was held today where we discussed the increase with the university’s newly appointed president, but he really didn’t care; we told won’t him some students be able to pay, their future is in danger, and his response was 'I can’t do anything about it, and so what if 5-10 percent of the students leave?'” Rashed claims.
The students have vowed to continue their strike until their grievances are properly addressed, as per Caravan, the AUC student newspaper, who took to Facebook to report that Students Union President Amr El Alfy said that students would not attend classes until the administration responds to them. In the meantime, an emergency Parents Association meeting has been scheduled for tomorrow.